April 17, 2013

Special Advisor to the Provost on Technology and Educational Transformation

I'm excited to announce the new role I've just taken on at UMD.  Here is the letter I just sent to our faculty describing it.  I've already received about 2 dozen thoughtful replies, and am really looking forward to meeting the people innovating on campus!

Dear Colleagues,

It shouldn't be a surprise that our campus is looking closely at the use of technology in education, and our faculty are actively experimenting with different approaches. Recently, there has been a confluence of pedagogical interest and technological advancement, which has made the application of technology to education a strategic interest at UMD and at universities around the world. There are MOOCs (such as Coursera, Udacity and EdX), online classes, and any number of hybrid approaches. "Blended" educational environments combine face-to-face and electronic classrooms, and "flipping" the classroom (lectures online and face-to-face classes for more active, engaged learning) are just some of the strategies that instructors are pursuing.

The opportunities (and risks) here are significant enough that the Provost has asked me to help her develop a strategy to best infuse technology into education throughout campus. Thus, starting immediately, I will be taking on the role of Special Advisor to the Provost on Technology and Educational Transformation, through August 2014. I hope to consider a wide range of activities while keeping the focus on our core mission of improving the quality of the education we offer to our students on campus. But it goes further than that. The opportunities for innovation, study, and publishable research in this space are tremendous. And the Provost has made it clear that pursuing research-based understanding of these issues is crucial.

As a computer scientist working in the area of Human-Computer Interaction, I have been involved in developing and applying technology to support education. From the International Children's Digital Library to SearchParty, I have endeavored to create new ways that technology can be used to motivate students and increase their power to learn.

As the campus considers these issues more broadly, I welcome your perspective. If you have exciting new ideas, or concerns about technology in education, let me know. As I said, the opportunities are tremendous - but it is up to us to invent the future.

Looking forward to working with you,

  - Ben

No comments: